On TV Tonight
- 20:00 - Two Greedy Italians - Piedmont
- 21:00 - River Cottage Veg Every Day - Feast
- 22:00 - MasterChef: The Final Three - MasterChef
- Prep time:
- 25 min, plus decorating time
- Cook time:
- 45 min, plus 10 minutes cooling
- Makes 1 cake
Cake queen, Jane Asher, makes a fabulous party cake for grown-up boys – leave out the alcohol for littlies
Method1. Preheat the oven to 180C, 160C fan/gas 4.
2. Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at high speed for at least 5 minutes or until it is pale and fluffy (at this stage all the lightness is put into the mix).
3. Break the eggs into a small bowl or jug and, with a fork, whisk in the vanilla extract.
4. With the motor running, add the eggs, little by little, to the butter/sugar mix, pausing after every addition, and beating well all the time.
5. Add the flour in several batches, either folding it in with a wooden spoon, or with the mixer set to pulse.
6. Stir in the yogurt, adding a little more if necessary to give a ‘dropping’ consistency.
7. Spoon the mix into the tin (the moulds should be two-thirds filled with mixture), pushing it up the sides of each mould with a spoon or spatula. With a folded tea towel on the work surface, bang the tin firmly on its base. You’ll see air bubbles rising slowly to the surface – keep going until you can’t see any more. The longer you do this, the better the detail you will achieve on the cooked cakes.
8. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
9. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out carefully onto a rack. Leave them to cool completely before decorating or, if you want to soak them with the alcoholic syrup, replace them in the tins after a couple of minutes.
10. For the Kirsch syrup: put the golden syrup and sugar into a small saucepan with 80 ml water and stir over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in the Kirsch.
11. With the cakes back in the tin, trim the upper surfaces flat and make a few holes in each with a skewer. Spoon the Kirsch syrup over the cakes, using about 3 teaspoonfuls for each, and leave for at least 1 hour, or overnight, for it to soak in.
12. Spoon the icing into the piping bags (one for each colour) and cut the tip off each when you are ready to use it. Pipe icing to make details on the train and use a little more to stick sweets and decorations in place. You can add tracks made from liquorice laces and grass made from a little more icing covered with green sprinkles.
13. If you have soaked the cakes in the Kirsch syrup, they are delicious served with whipped cream.
For the cake
- 180 g softened or spreadable butter, or margarine
- 180 g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 180 g plain flour
- about 4 tbsp plain yogurt
- ready-made royal or butter icing, in tubes (see Cook’s tip)
- assorted decorations and sweets
- whipped cream, to serve (optional)
For the Kirsch syrup
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 150 g granulated sugar
- 125 ml kirsch
Tips and suggestions
- If you'd rather make your own icing, follow the recipes below and add food colouring paste.
100g spreadable butter
200g sieved icing sugar
Put the butter and sugar into a bowl (make sure you cover the top, or you’ll have icing sugar flying all round the kitchen) and beat well until light and fluffy. Add a few drops of warm water if necessary.
1 medium egg white
175-225g sieved icing sugar
Whisk the egg white lightly in a largish bowl until it’s well broken up and a few little bubbles appear. Whisk the sugar into it, little by little, beating well after each addition. Don’t make it either too stiff or too runny, remembering that the colour will make it a little looser.